LAZER TEAM is a cheerfully cheesy homage to great and not-so-great sci-fi movies of days gone by. With a goofy sense of humor, a droll use of irony, and whipsmart comedic instincts, it tells the time-honored tale of misfits finding the greatness within themselves, while also saving the earth from evil alien invaders.
It takes as its premise the so-called Wow! Signal, the message received in 1977 by SETI in seeming response to our collective search for intelligent life in the universe. The official story is that it has yet to be deciphered, but the real story, per this flick, is that what it said was that we are not alone, and that conflict was coming. That would be from the Worg, a nasty example of extraterrestrials who make it their business to destroy planets that they deem weak. The message though, came from the Antareans, who long to help us by sending a special pack of advanced weaponry to be worn by our planetary champion. Fortunately, the actual pack will take longer to arrive than the message, giving the military, led by Col. Emory (Steve Shearer), time to choose a promising baby, and raise it up to be a super-warrior capable of defeating the Worg.
It’s such a good plan. If only there had been a more reliable delivery system. Instead arriving at the military base outside of Milford, TX, it’s intercepted by a quartet of dorks arguing over fireworks. And thus, instead of Adam (Alan Ritchson), square-jawed, lightning reflexed, and at the peak of physical perfection, the weapons become permanently attached to the four ragtag misfits who try them on for size. Alas, the dorks aren’t just unqualified to save the world, they would probably not survive a battle of wits with a crossword puzzle of middling difficulty. Plus, they are pretty much at each other’s throats. There’s Sheriff Hagan (co-writer Burnie Burns), who has never lived down the shame of a botch football play back in high school, Herman (Colton Dunn), the running back whose football career he torpedoed by botching that play, Woody (Gavin Free), Herman’s dim bulb of a best friend who fails to notice things like his arm being on fire, and Zach (Michael Jones), the jock currently wooing Hagan’s comely daughter, Mindy (Alexandria DeBerry). In short order, these four guys are under military arrest, threatened with forced amputation of the devices, and the target of the advance emissaries sent by the Worg.
Fast-paced and deliciously deadpan even at its very silliest, the four wisecrack and bumble their way through their various trials and tribulations as the script pays homage to the classic tropes of the genre. Eerie lights loom in the dark woods, alien weapons shoot forth gleaming particle rays, and military types are itching to use the nuclear option. There’s also time, though, for sly jabs at social mores, cultural failings, and some grudgingly snarky props to social media. It’s all done with such a light heart and effusive affection for what it’s spoofing that LAZER TEAM had won me over long before Neil deGrasse Tyson pops up in a pithy cameo. There’s also an underlying element of cleverness, that lulls us with giving, for example, the obviousness of special boots that confer great speed on Herman, who limps from his long-ago football injury, or the helmet that confers intelligence on Woody, or the force-field shield to Hagan, who protects and serves professionally, and in private wants to keep his daughter out of Zach’s hormonal clutches. Which brings us to Zach’s special weapon, that ray gun that goes off, spewing forth its ray with just the lightest of touches. Yes, the makers of LAZER TEAM went there, and you should join them.
Special shout-out to Ed Robertson for the pulse-poundingly overwrought theme song that rolls along with the end credits. Stay for both.